Broccoli Rabe Pesto

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
broccoli rabe pesto pasta
Broccoli Rabe Pesto with Orecchiette really does look like pesto. 
A New York Times piece about the food of Apulia, the heel of the boot region of Italy, drove me into the kitchen to try a meatless version of the cool recipe for broccoli rabe pesto with sausage. It was created by Michael Toscano, the chef at Perla in New York. Not exactly traditional, it’s the orecchiette paired with bitter greens, a dish typical of Apulia, but the pesto or the sausage part. Nevertheless, what a great pesto variation during the no (or extra pricey) fresh basil season.  
Chef Toscano’s recipe, a home run if you love the wonderful combo of Italian sausage with broccoli rabe, also contains cooked fennel which gives the pesto a hint of that basil-like licorice taste. Whizzing up the cooked sweet sausage with the rabe guarantees both tastes in every bite. And it looks just like pesto, with the huge added bonus that the beautiful bright green color doesn’t turn dark when it hits the air. 
I included walnuts in the meatless version, and you can omit the fennel and/or the parmesan cheese with delicious results. Other short pasta shapes will work well, or toss the “pesto” with potatoes. If you can’t find broccoli rabe, then improvise with broccolini. The taste is not as bitter, but it works. Broccoli Rabe Pesto is hearty and satisfying and reminds me of that other wonderful mashed vegetable pasta sauce made with cauliflower and anchovy.   
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1 comment

Amelia October 23, 2012 - 5:01 pm

Love to see vegetarian recipes! Thanks for thinking of the herbivores. I’m going to give this one a try.

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